[insert picture here - sorry, in my experience pools and cameras don't mix]
We found ourselves twiddling our thumbs last Friday (since it was Veterans' Day, my very own veteran only had to go to work for two hours!). It was rainy and cool and Eva had been dying to go for a swim. She's rarely had chances to go, since she has to go with her dad (my eczema has generally kept me out of the pool and ocean while here on island, and it absolutely kills me to not be able to teach her how to swim, since I'm the swimmer in the family and all--no really, once when I took her to the baby pool and couldn't take her in the big pool I actually cried a little bit). Anyway, she'd been craving some "Swimmy an' boat an' Daddy an' Anny" (last time she went swimming, our friend "Anny" went to the beach with them so now she thinks he's always going to go swimming with her). So we went to check out the Renaissance Hotel--it's a resort up north a ways, and you can buy a day pass to their indoor pool. I'd heard rave reviews.
We drove by the hotel about four times before we decided we were not going to figure out the parking situation on our own, and sure enough, when we asked we were directed to what we thought was a car rental place. In the lobby, we did the usual shuffle-in-in-slobby-clothes, knock-stuff-over, ask-the-wrong-staff-members-the-wrong-questions thing that I always do in fancy hotels. Finally we made it in to a buffet lunch--expectedly pricey and completely worth it--and over to the indoor pool, which was...shockingly...disappointingly small and a little dingy.
This unmet expectations thing is the Okinawan disease that plagues me most incessantly. I cannot seem to manage them, remember that we're on a remote island way out in the Pacific ocean, in one of the poorest sections of a country of people that are way smaller than me (so things seem bigger to them!). I feel bad about my constant disappointment in Okinawa. It's not its fault. Poor little guy. He's trying his best.*
Anyway, I settled down on a lounge chair while the Pater Familias took the nearly-ready-to-explode with excitement Eva into the pool. I intended to make some serious progress on Till We Have Faces, our book club selection for this month, but instead after about 4 pages the warm, moist air, the comfy chair, the good memories I associate with chlorinated air...the soft roaring noise that's the soundtrack for indoor pools...the knowledge that Eva was having fun with the PF and there were lifeguards watching them...the fact that I'd only had one cup of coffee...the huuuge luuunch that I'd just devouuu..... . . . . . . . .
In reality, outside of Martha-fantasy-land, it is a very nice pool. There are shallow stairs that are perfect for toddlers, big and small waterslides (Eva can do the small one on her own), nice lifeguards, floaties that you can use (and they allow you to bring your own), and a fantastic locker room. A word of warning, though--Japanese women's bathingsuits are shocking...ly modest.
Interestingly, they also had a table where you could--for an additional fee, I think--do crafts. Paint pictures or little statuettes and things. Strange and cute idea.
I did eventually wake up and even went swimming for a few minutes before the chemicals started to get to me. It was really good times. Being in the water feels like home. I may have done the kiddie water slide. And I may have shrieked a little.
After we were all done, we explored the grounds briefly, and came across--well, what else?--a couple of dolphin trainers working with their animals in an enclosed space (one might call it a dolphin run) next to Renaissance Beach. We were the only observers. We watched from a bridge above as there was much fish-feeding and petting and dolphin-clicking and jumping into the air. Just another special moment of Okinawesomeness. Judging by Eva's reaction, though, I'm guessing we'll be headed to the eye doctor sooner rather than later. I'm afraid she got her daddy's eyes on the inside as well as out.
And then we headed home. It was a good day that will hopefully be repeated soon.
*But not really. We know that this place has much more of a laid-back "ohhh, I'll get to it" culture than the rest of Japan, which really is trying its best.